Reserve Bank of India has taken various initiatives over the years for improving customer service and grievance redress mechanism in banks. Detailed guidelines on customer service were issued to banks encompassing various aspects of operations that impact customers. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was introduced in 1995 to serve as an alternate grievance redress mechanism for customer complaints against banks. In 2019, Reserve Bank also introduced the Complaint Management System (CMS), a fully automated process-flow based platform, available 24x7 for customers to lodge their complaints with the Banking Ombudsman (BO).
As part of the disclosure initiative, banks were advised to disclose in their annual reports, summary information regarding the complaints handled by them; and certain disclosures were also being made in the Annual Report of the Ombudsman Schemes published by the Reserve Bank. To further strengthen grievance redress mechanisms, banks were mandated to appoint an Internal Ombudsman (IO) to function as an independent and objective authority at the apex of their grievance redress mechanism.
Effective grievance redress should be an integral part of the business strategy of the banks. It is, however, evident from the increasing number of complaints received in the Offices of Banking Ombudsman (OBOs), that greater attention by banks to this area is warranted. More focused attention to customer service and grievance redress will ensure satisfactory customer outcomes and greater customer confidence.
In view of the above, and to further strengthen the customer grievance redress mechanism in banks, it has been decided to put in place a comprehensive framework comprising of, inter-alia, enhanced disclosures by banks on customer complaints, recovery of cost of redress from banks for the maintainable complaints received against them in OBOs in excess of the peer group average, and undertaking intensive review of the grievance redress mechanism and supervisory action against banks that fail to improve their redress mechanism in a time bound manner.